Diego Lafuente’s personal blog

March 6, 2014

Boredom is killing you, take a breath and keep going

"Let's be honest: a large part of us is tired of seeing the same old topics over and over again. The black header, a giant slogan, round blue buttons, and Helvetica Neue font."

This is how the article Please stop using Twitter Bootstrap begins, and if I am honest, I believe it is a failed attempt at vox populi or a simple tantrum from a professional who is very bored and has nothing better to do than to give very volatile arguments about how dense and repetitive it is to see websites using Bootstrap, a framework, and worst of all, according to his judgment, its surroundings are so relevant that everything becomes catastrophic, when in reality, the internet is so vast that none of his assertions truly have a weighty argumentation.

When I read that article, my automatic reaction was to yawn. Nothing in the article makes sense, yet it has gained notoriety on some news sites and has made its way onto my Twitter timeline.

I really don't understand the author. What I do understand is one thing: the author lives in a glass bubble; he was fed up with being bored and navigates very little for being a professional in the field. The internet itself is a sea of design patterns. You don't need Bootstrap to see the same styles over and over again, even seasonally: gradients with shadows? Done. Proxima Nova typography? Done. Once a model becomes attractive, it is copied, duplicated, replicated, redesigned, iterated, and re-iterated a thousandth of times more. In summary: Bootstrap is not to blame for some designers or people not bothering to customize their designs more or make them as clean and elitist as the author of the article could make them.

I expressed this a while ago in an article: using a framework is not a bad thing. It's about not repeating the same old mistakes and normalizing good practices. Sometimes, excessive ego can make you lose coherence, wanting to stand out when in reality it will make things worse. Bootstrap is an excellent guide and solves many headaches, especially in things that don't really need to be so dramatic. It is clear that it is optional, and you don't need to use all the module set.

The author of the post also emphasizes that there is no sense of design and no creativity involved, but I believe this is a very simplistic view of the matter. He assumes from the outset that using Bootstrap will eliminate sensitivity to design and creativity. I tell him it's not true: there is a defined grid, and you can design whatever you want, it's just a matter of imagination. But what really seems to traumatize him is only those people who don't invest in modifying the framework but use the standard:

"But when you start seeing the same layout over and over again, users start to disconnect. You've lost me. Your design looks like one of the other 6000 sites out there. And not just because of the same general layout used, but also the exact same components."

I really don't understand it. Without Bootstrap, there are tens of thousands of sites with the same layout, the same components, and even with the same color patterns, image style, graphic style, etc. There are entire sites dedicated to templates for entire sites, with design, photos, and installable at the click of a button. As I said above: patterns are repeated endlessly.

In other areas, this concern practically doesn't exist. It is very rare to see a programmer say: —Geez! another site made in Ruby on Rails—, but... so what?. Actually, it is quite the opposite: it seems to be another one of the signs that I denounce in the post where people think they own a style and are the representative voice of the movement. Designers tend to be very proud and possessive, as evidenced by this post that questions the goodness of a site just because it looks like others, when in reality, the other sites also look like others and vice versa. When you think you've invented something, it's likely that someone else has already done it. No, using that typography doesn't make you unique, someone else has used it too.

"And one should not listen to those who are accustomed to saying that the voice of the people is the voice of God, for the unrestraint of the masses is always close to madness. -Charlemagne. Epistolae, 166, para 9."